Muzzafarnagar: In the evening of Saturday, Muzaffarnagar Station Master Neeraj Sharma witness a line of green dots on the monitor screen, clear sign that the track from Khatauli railway station was clear.
In other words, the Kalinga Utkal Express would cross Khatauli and reach Muzaffarnagar at its scheduled time of 5:54 pm.
But just a moment later, he received call informing him that the train had derailed after crossing Khatauli. “If maintenance work was going on near Khatauli, a section should have been red on the screen. The driver should have either been asked to stop or pass the area slowly, depending on the work being carried out,” pointed out Sharma.
There were no sort of details for the train to slow down or stop, according to the station masters. To make matter even worse, there was no details that the track was under repair.
“The repair work has been going on for several days. There was light rain on Saturday, but the work continued. We were sitting in our courtyard when we heard a deafening sound, and saw a coach up in the air. Maybe, the track had not been repaired properly,” said Poonam Chaudhary, a house owner at the railway track.
Northern Railways officials finally admitted this by Sunday afternoon.
“It is a major coordination lapse. Our repairmen had removed a small section of the track and were in the process of replacing it when the Utkal Express came down the tracks at a speed of 100 kmph. Clamps and tools have been found near the accident site to indicate repair work was underway. The officials at Khatauli should have known. The PWI (permanent way inspector) should have informed them,” pointed out a senior Northern Railways official.
It is worthwhile mentioning that the Kalinga Utkal Express runs from Puri to Haridwar on a daily basis, stops at Meerut Cantonment station and Muzaffarnagar station for 60 seconds each.